I've been writing lyrics for quite some time now (at least five years). Although there have been several of those moments when I've thought I'd have an act for music making, I'm just not sure I'll ever get around to it, or be good enough. I'd like to know how I could share my lyrics I've written, and whether I should give them away, or try to sell them?

3 Answers 3


Regarding selling your lyrics, this is apparently not how the music industry works.

I came across this interesting article written by an Emmy-nominated song writer, which warns against the idea of selling your lyrics:

Selling lyrics is never done in the legitimate music business. There are smarmy scumbags in every business who will gladly tell you what you want to hear for a price, so if someone offers you a contract for the purpose of selling lyrics, tear it up. Immediately. It might feel good for a day or so to be “wanted”, it might feel great to have someone finally “like” something you’ve created, but it will feel awful forever when you realize you’ve been taken by a shark. Buying lyrics and selling lyrics is never, ever done in the real music business.

Marketing lyrics is just like marketing songs: you write a lyric, you find a composer to set it to music, you record the song professionally and competitively, then you set out to market the finished song, which includes pitching your work to music publishers and A & R people at record labels, who, in turn, pitch your songs to singers and bands looking for hits in your genre. When your songs are recorded, you receive quarterly royalties for each copy sold, as well as performance royalties from countries all over the world based on the number of times your songs are performed for profit on radio stations, online, in commercials, in movies, and TV shows.

As for sharing your lyrics, there seem to be a number of forums on-line geared towards this purpose. An example would be something like Deep Underground Poetry. There are probably many others out there (just Google for something like "share lyrics poetry" or something similar).

I personally wouldn't recommend giving your lyrics away, as they're yours. You never know when you may want to use something you've written down, and you also never know what someone may do with your lyrics. If you're thinking of sharing, and want other people to use your work, but to still control it to a degree, consider attaching some "copyleft" to it, perhaps something like a Creative Commons license.


Whether to give away or sell your work depends on your resources and the goals you have for your work. Here is how I would approach the situation were I in your place:

I'd release my best work under a Creative Commons by-sa or by-sa-nc license.

This helps your work gain exposure, and gives something to the community, without sacrificing ownership of your work. With a by-sa (attribution, share-alike) license, others may use your work in any way that they like but if they use it to create another work (say, they record a performance that uses your lyrics), they must release it under the same terms you did -- AND give you credit in a manner you have specified. This way, every use of your work gains you exposure, and you can in turn use, for example, the melody someone else wrote to go with your lyrics (just give them credit).

Additionally, you still own your work, so if someone would like to use it on different terms (like a company wishing to use it in a product they will not release under Creative Commons) they must receive specific permission from you (and, if you like, payment of some kind that you negotiate).

If you are against any use of your work for profit without specific permission/payment, you can instead opt for the by-sa-nc (attribution, share-alike, non-commercial) license. This is similar to the by-sa license above, except that any for-profit use requires specific permission from you.

Once it's released, I'd promote the heck out of it.

The Creative Commons site and your friends here at writers.SE can offer great tips on specifics. Just do whatever you can to become more visible. This can lead to paid licensing of your existing work, commissions to do new work, opportunities to market non-cc-licensed work, or just a beer from an appreciative user of your stuff every now and again. Either way, in my humble opinion, getting it out there is better than keeping it in a drawer.

  • How would I go about getting a Creative Commons license? Apr 12, 2011 at 22:38
  • @James: There are excellent instructions in the Creative Commons FAQ.
    – HedgeMage
    Apr 13, 2011 at 0:09
  • 1
    +1 for Creative Commons; that's the first place I went reading this question! Note to the original poster: I bang the copyright-is-different-based-on-jurisdiction drum a lot, and CC licenses allow you to customize your license based on your country. Make sure to do that!
    – msanford
    Apr 13, 2011 at 13:45

If you're looking for a place to share lyrics, I've created a platform that's just for that.


It also helps you in the creative process of writing lyrics online — it's a pretty neat tool that has a great community behind it.

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